Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Did A Month Named 'November' Come Through Here?

Looked at my calendar this morning and -- WHOA! -- where the hell did the whole month go? I think this might have been the fastest November on record. At least, to me. Thinking back on it, I think I have a reasonable explanation why it flew by so quickly.

If I had to guess, I would say it had something to do with starting the novel. Since I began writing at the start of the month, I've written more than 40,000 words. That's not enough to qualify by NaNoWriMo standards, maybe -- but that's still quite a lot of writing for someone who has a day job and can only write 2 hours out of every night. I'm very lucky that I took a year beforehand to really think long and hard on the novel I would be writing, and to work out on paper many of the larger issues before I even began the proper crafting. As it stands now, I'm making very good progress according to the outline I devised. Some scenes were hairier to plow through than first anticipated, and I ended up making some minor adjustments that I think make my characters more fleshed out. But so far it's been fairly smooth sailing.

I'm almost at the halfway mark for the core chapters. Once I'm done with those (which should be around the 85,000 word mark), I'll take a short break to work on some short stories before returning and tackling the chapters of the secondary characters in the novel. I'm saving the ending chapters for last, as I want to make sure I pull it off just right. I also will most likely be extending the final word count goal from 120 to 150K words. The novel is going to be longer than I thought it might be, but really no longer than your typical hard-backed fantasy tome. I'm thinking it will come in at roughly 425 pages in the end.

All that being said, if the writing continues apace as it has so far, I would imagine December will fly by just as fast as November. Of course, we have all the holiday drama that might take away from the time I can devote to this project, but I don't anticipate anything stopping me cold turkey.

Hope you all had a great month, too. Onward toward the end of the year!!!

Two Pics Worth The Price Of A Chuckle Today

Upon checking out Gizmodo this afternoon, I came across this article mentioning some important NASA press conference scheduled for this Thursday concerning a possible "astrobiology finding" on one of Saturn's moons. In this case, Titan, which we already know has liquid on its surface in the form of the hydrocarbon ethane. Could there actually be life on this moon?

Anyway, in the comments at the end of the article, I came across two embedded pics which had me ROTFLMAO -- and which adequately displays my frustration at NASA's previous "important" announcements:

That's so wrong . . . and yet, so RIGHT! LOL! On a tangent note, but also offering up equal hilarity is another pic I found in the comments, which so perfectly sums up my annoyance sometimes when I read my science magazines:

That right there is so on the money! I subscribe to three scientific mags -- Discover, Scientific American, and Archaeology -- as well as pick up the occasional Astronomy and National Geographic when the mood strikes my fancy. I can't tell you how many articles I'm starting to skip now because this is how they almost always turn out. The headline presents a provocative supposition of some potentially ground-breaking paradigm shift . . . only to end up being a "wouldn't it be cool if?" spec piece, or containing a flat out "yeah, keep dreaming" conclusion. ARGH!!! So aggravating! But such is the nature of the game of science journalism. Ground breaking discoveries are not made every day, and yet they still need to sell subscriptions.

Anyway, I guess I'll be keeping my ears peeled for Thursday's announcement. I agree with this Jason Kottke person that it will mostly likely be about the discovery of arsenic, which has already been theorized before as a likely candidate to be found on Titan. Don't get me wrong, this will be great news. Even better if they actually do have evidence of some kind of bacteria living off the arsenic. But then, NASA has gotten my hopes up before. So for now I'll just remain cautiously optimistic and wait to see what comes of it.

Are you excited by the possibilities?

Monday, November 29, 2010

If Martians Existed, NASA Would Be The Sixth Branch Of The U.S. Armed Forces

On the train ride to work this morning, I was going over the idea of how much more advanced our space exploration technology would be if Mars was a viable planet with a diverse ecosystem and life on a general parallel with our own. If Martians existed, and at roughly the same time and level of technological development as how we've progressed over the millennia . . . could you imagine the possibilities? Just think how much of human history would have been changed by this one premise.

Would the first astronomers to use optical instruments have been surprised to find Martian telescopes winking back at them? What would this have done for religion? For communications technology? I think we would have developed radio much, much sooner if we knew there were other species out there in the great beyond to talk with. I know radio waves would not be the ideal way to communicate with Mars, but it's where the technology would have started, just as it did in our present timeline. Or perhaps we would have developed a light-based communication system with the Martians -- something akin to semaphore, or a laser-based version of Morse Code. But this could have all started much earlier in our history, like during the Middle Ages or slightly earlier.

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, would European merchants already be focusing their efforts on plotting the quickest route to Mars? Given enough greed and determination -- not to mention a clear and obvious goal staring down at them from the night sky -- might we not have figured out rocket propulsion and space flight sooner? After all, we did have Leonardo Da Vinci back then. I'm sure his crackpot ideas would have been given a whole lot more credence by the ruling European elite of the time had Martians been a part of the picture.

So, yes, we would have had space flight a lot sooner. Not only that, but our space program would not be the under-funded, curiously neutered thing it is today. No. It would probably be the most important government agency of them all. We probably would've been traveling to Mars and back since the 19th century, especially during those moments when the orbits of both planets are closest to one another. I have to wonder if other star systems with two or more habitable planets might not already be benefiting from this set-up. When not suffering from the pig-headed and illogical belief that your race is the only intelligent species out there in the whole cosmos, what is it that a race of intelligent thinkers cannot accomplish?

So for a while there I started to bemoan the fact that our solar system is devoid of life similar to ours. We would probably be a far more advanced people if we had a sister world to reach out toward.

But then, of course, my cynical side takes over. Humans being humans, more likely we would have advanced rapidly to outer space only so that we could conquer Mars and absorb all of its resources. Moreover, without even the veil of human decency to curb our actions (after all, do Martians even have souls?), wholesale genocide of the Martians would probably not even generate a batted eyelid from the general public back home on Earth. Imagine the monsters we would have become as a race of Martian baby killers?

Or, an even worse scenario: what if the reverse happened? After all, who's to say the Martians didn't get a jump start on us? For that matter, maybe in that hypothetical star system that does have more than one habitable planet sustaining life, the species of those worlds battled each other to extinction. And maybe that's why we don't see them venturing out to our corner of the Milky Way?

Hmm, on second thought, maybe it's a good thing that our solar system only has one Earth-like planet with intelligent life on it. Any accelerated technological advantages we might have enjoyed as a result of our sister planet being habitable and inhabited might have come at too steep a price. If both our planets aren't destroyed outright in the War of Worlds that would have surely ensued, at the very least the victor would emerge as a cruel, despotic explorer, using the advanced weapons of war to seek out and destroy other cosmic civilizations located outside our solar system.

Maybe it's best, then, that Earth figures out its own troubles in isolation, and how to treat its fellow human beings better before we develop the technology to leave our sandbox and seek out other company. Perhaps a Gene Rodenberry-esque future is not so improbable. After all, the way things look now, we won't be getting off this rock any time soon until we figure out how to get along and stop trying to solve everything by hurling penis-shaped projectiles at one another.

By the time we're ready for true space exploration, perhaps we will have had the time to evolve better sense. Something I don't think would happen if we had Martians to contend with.

Still, it's an intriguing concept, this idea of a sister world so close to our own that our ancestors might have reached out and touched someone . . . green!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Are You An Emotional Eater?

Was just watching another episode of Luther today, that BBC show I mentioned yesterday. And there was a scene where someone distraught was drinking a bottle of wine to dull the pain. And once again it brought home for me just how different I am than most people when faced with a stressful or depressing scenario. I never can understand why people overeat or booze it up when sad. I think my wiring must be completely off, then. Because for me, the last thing I want to do in such a scenario is eat or drink or do any of the things I do normally when I'm happy. It's like hypocrisy for me to stuff my face when the whole world is going to shit around me.

I guess the reason why some people do this is because food and drink actually does release happy endorphins into their bodies. Like eating chocolate when sad, for instance. Whereas for me, if those endorphins are being released, my brain doesn't seem to be registering the effect when I'm blue. A good meal or bottle of wine doesn't make me feel any better, and as such I tend not to have much of an appetite when I'm down.

Then again, I'm very rarely down. It's not that I live such a wonderful, Disney-fied life or anything. Just that I'm generally not somebody who focuses too much on how bad the world is or on the things I *wish* I had in my life. Despite my innate sarcasm and the don't-fuck-with-me persona which I adopt in public, I'm actually an optimist. I see the best in humanity, and the world, even when evidence to the contrary abounds everywhere I look. And even despite the pretty shitty things that have happened to me in my past.

So, are you a depressive binger? Does food make you feel happy when you're down? Or, like me, can you only properly enjoy food when you are already happy first? There is a difference, in case you haven't realized.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Enough With This Black Friday Crap!

Lisa and I spent a very quiet Thanksgiving yesterday. No family. No friends. Just the two of us, alone in our apartment, catching up on tv shows we missed last week and ordering in. We checked out two British shows that I Tivo'd off the BBC America channel -- Luther, starring Idris Elba and Indira Varma (yummy!), and Law & Order U.K., starring among other people Jamie Bamber, "Apollo" of Battlestar Galactica fame. It also co-stars Freema Agyeman, an actress I've never seen before, but whom I shall be taking a special interest in henceforth.

Freema Agyeman . . . she's staring into your SOUL!

She's been in a few other British shows, most notably Doctor Who and Torchwood. She's of Persian (Iranian mother) and African (Ghanaian father) ethnicity, which I'm pretty sure accounts for her immense attractiveness. It's the eyes, for me. It's all about the eyes! :)

Anyway, both shows are fantastic so far. Luther is absolutely brilliant! The writing and acting are of the highest caliber. Law & Order UK is serviceable at this time. Good, but not as well written or edited as the various U.S. versions. At least, not so far. But I'll give it time to catch up. Too bad the theme music sucks, though. I mean, it's really awful! Personally, I also believe the title should be "London" rather than "U.K." After all, the new American show set in Los Angeles is called "L.A.", not "California" or "West Coast" or, worse, "U.S."

But I'm nitpicking. Suffice to say, I recommend these shows to anyone with access to BBC, BBC America, or a good download site. Luther, I believe, was just released on DVD this past week. The first season (or "series" as they're called across the pond) is only six 60-minute episodes long, but you get a lot for your buck. Law & Order UK is already on its fourth series, although the show only just premiered last year. So I'm sure some of the seasons are already available on DVD as well (I haven't checked).

As for today, Black Friday . . . please don't bring it up. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about it. Seriously, the way the news media have been shoving it down our throats has made me so disgusted with capitalistic greed. I know I sound like a dirty socialist now, or worse -- a commie! -- but all this talk about consumers rushing out and spending tons of money on crap no one really needs has only made my wallet curl up in the fetal position and refuse to open. I'm so not in the consumerist spirit right now, although I am generally ebullient about the holidays being upon us.

No, this day -- once again -- will be about me and my wife spending quality time together. We're heading downtown to watch some movies, eat some popcorn, and then have a nice lovely dinner together while the mall crowds shop themselves silly around us. I have a tremendous ability to be the calm port in the middle of a stormy sea, so none of the craziness should affect me.

And what movies will we be checking out? I haven't quite decided yet (and yes, I'm usually the one that has to make these decisions for the both of us), but I think we will check out the new Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson film, Faster, as well as that new Disney animated flick, Tangled. Click on the titles of each movie to watch the trailers.

So, I hope you all had a wonderful T-Day if you're in the States, and a wonderful, eh . . . Thursday if you're not. And don't listen to all the downers out there who told you not to over indulge on the feasting this holiday -- that's what Thanksgiving is for, you fuckers!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Best 10 Video Game Openings

Happy Turkey Day to everybody!

Here at the Batista household, we plan on taking a relaxing day off from things -- and well-deserved, I must say! If you haven't noticed, I've been keeping myself scarce this past week. Work on the novel continues apace, and all is still going smashingly on that front. But don't think I've forgotten you all in the meantime, no no no. In fact, here's a fun blog entry I had waiting in the wings for a few days now, but decided that, in the festive spirit of this day in which we give thanks, that I would take a moment to show my appreciation for that obscure art -- the finely crafted video game introduction movie!

You may recall that I already have a blog entry on my Top 10 Games of all time. If you don't remember, I urge you to please click on that link and check out that list as well. Those of you who know my gaming habits well will probably not find anything surprising on it. But check it out anyway, and leave a comment while you're at it!

As for this new list . . . video game introductions are those indelible opening sequences that draw you in to a game before the actual gameplay even starts. They usually appear just before, or right after, the main title sequence. They're the little pieces of cinema that whet your appetite and leave you drooling for more.

Just what is my judging criteria for this list? Well, I have to be honest: all these picks are personal to me. They were picked not only due to their awesomeness, but because I was in a special place or moment when I first saw these. In other words, my list is not trying to be the definitive list. Nor is it going to be identical to *YOUR* list, okay?

So don't dare come to the comments section bitching about how *YOUR* favorite game intro is not on this list. Or how Game X on my list sucks, and that I don't know games. This is not the time or place for that. In fact, no time will ever be the right time for that, nor will this ever be the place. Not on this blog. This is my list and my games. Each one are titles I own and have played dozens of times. And part of the reason behind such rampant re-playability is very much due in fact to the way these games start out. You may not understand my reasoning. But just know that, to me, these opening movies kick ass!

And now, after the jump . . . on to the festivities!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Avast! Ye Scurvy Dogs

So, on Facebook I mentioned how I now know entirely way too much about 15th century sailing vessels. This is all due to the exhaustive research I've done in service to a scene I'm writing for the novel. Two of my chapters take place aboard a haunted pirate ship called the Ship O' Fools. In the video game, the ship is a blocky huge monstrosity that is never fully identified. All we know is that it is a pirate ship -- you really can't infer much else from the 2D levels and antiquated sprites.

So from this I had to extrapolate based on history what kind of pirate ship would be floating around the waters of the Mediterranean or Black seas circa the late 15th century. After looking at a tremendous number of ships (at one point I chose a Spanish galleon, although those didn't hit the scene until 200 years later), I finally settled on a carrack, or "nau" as it is called in Portuguese. What it has going for it is that it's huge (500 tons, 54 meters long), with 7 decks and around 35 cannon; it was in use around the time period my novel takes place; and more importantly it sailed many waters, including the Med and Black seas. I couldn't find much info on pirate naus, but I figured one could have theoretically been commandeered by pirates and then met an unfortunate end that "cursed" its crew.

So, with my historically accurate vessel picked out, I then had to learn everything I could about the layout and basic nautical terms of the ship. Wow, what an education I got! I scoured all over for sources other than Wikipedia (I hate that site!) and learned a ton of interesting stuff. Basic stuff that even the most amateur sailor already knows. Like the difference between a forecastle and an aftcastle. What a capstan is, or a bowsprit. That the three masts for my particular ship are: the foremast, the main mast, and the mizzenmast. What the heck the term "abaft" means, or "athwarthship". Where the quarterdeck is located, or that those funny net looking things leading up to the crow's nest are called "shrouds."

Armed with a wealth of knowledge (of which I'll probably only end up using less than 10%), I set about last night to start the first of the two chapters. Most of the writing centered around my three characters rowing a dinghy out to the haunted vessel, and a flashback of sorts being retold. I haven't started writing what happens once they get on the ship yet, though. That will be for tonight's session. But I did leave off with the trio having to climb up the hawsepipe to venture aboard, since none of the crew are around to hoist the dinghy up onto the main deck. All in all, I wrote an additional 2,050 words in the space of two hours. Not bad.

I'm really loving the way this novel is starting to take shape. I can't believe how much fun I'm still having. It really feels like I'm along for the adventure, waiting to see what happens next to my slowly developing characters. Sometimes I forget that I'm only writing a practice novel that will never see publication. Yes, it might seem like a waste of time to some, but for me I'm getting so much invaluable writing experience.

And, hey, it's my time to waste. So there!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night

No evil shall escape my sight!

Can't say that I've ever been a huge Green Lantern fan growing up. Save for Batman and Superman, most of the Silver Age DC comics superheroes always seemed so lame. I'm more of a Marvel guy. But the new movie coming out sometime next year, starring Ryan Reynolds as the Hal Jordan iteration of the Lantern, is shaping up rather nicely. This is the first official trailer to be seen by anybody. Check it out for yourselves, even if you don't know anything about the property. I daresay this doesn't seem quite so lame as I thought it would be. What about you?

Monday, November 15, 2010

First Major Milestone!

Wow, just look at that WiP counter in the upper right hand corner of this page. As you can see, I've been very busy working on the novel for the past couple of weeks. It started out slow, but now only halfway through the month I've already crossed the 25,000 word mark.

Hmmm, I guess maybe I should have joined NaNoWriMo after all. I mean, the goal for that is 50,000 words by the end of the month. And I'm halfway there on the 15th!

But, alas, where for most participants 50,000 marks the end of their novels . . . it won't even be the true halfway mark for my own work.

Good thing I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, though, so damned if I should care. As of right now I've written 6 full chapters, and part of the 7th. In actual page count I've written roughly 80-something double-spaced manuscript pages. Which, in terms of a hardcover fantasy novel you'd purchase from a bookseller, is only about 60 pages or under.

Yeah, not a lot, but I'm not daunted. Mentally I envision myself as only having barely scratched the surface. So I 'm still full of piss and vinegar to continue doing what I've been doing. I don't know if I'll be able to keep at the same exact pace over the next few weeks, because so far I've been blessed by no interruptions despite my always full schedule. But considering next week is a major holiday, I can't promise I'll be able to rely on another 2 weeks straight of consistent writing EVERY SINGLE DAY as I've been able to do so far.

But I'll get damn close. One thing about me is that, once I start a writing project, I write day in and day out without fail. I don't allow myself excuses, and only miss a day when I have absolutely no choice due to some family engagement or work-related snafu. And even then you'll find me sneaking in a few hundred words on a notepad or a family member's PC when I have a couple of minutes. Yes, I can be manic about it sometimes. I wasn't sure if I could keep the habit going with such a huge project like a novel . . . but so far, yes, I can!

As always, keep an eye out on that counter. I can't guarantee it will always progress so steadily, but at least by now you should get the idea that I'm not bullshitting here.

This is for *REAL* folks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Time For Games

Someone asked me yesterday which games have I been playing lately. To which I responded: none.

It's true. Take a look at that "Now Playing" sidebar of mine. As you can see, the last time it was updated was back in May. Which is about the last time I played a video game at all. At the time, I stopped because I was busy preparing for our major 2-week Mediterranean cruise trip in July, of which every detail of our itinerary I planned all on my own.

And once I came back from the cruise -- surprise, surprise -- I *still* had no time to play games. I was too busy writing a short story and simultaneously outlining the novel I would begin later in the year. So, still no time.

Fast forward to now, and that novel I was preparing for has taken over all my waking moments in which I'm not at my day job or working out and/or eating. When I write short stories, I still have time to game. But, not surprisingly, a novel takes up far more time. More importantly, it takes a lot longer to finish. When I write, I go into a zone where nothing else around me matters anymore. And this novel has been no different.

Now, this is not to say that ALL my free time is taken up with writing the novel. A good deal of it is, but not all of it. When I do take a break, however, I usually only have an hour or two to myself. And, forgive me, but I'd rather spend that time with my wife or watching tv, or both! Oddly enough, gaming doesn't even factor in on my list of things to do whenever I have free "play" time these days.

However, the most startling revelation I've discovered for why I'm not getting back to my PS3, Xbox 360, or Wii is this: Writing this novel is actually more FUN than playing console games! Yeah, I'm as shocked to find that out as some of you might be to hear me say it. But it's true. Each day I look forward to going home and getting behind the keyboard to continue the adventures of my main protagonist and friends. I can't vouch for the quality of the actual writing getting done, but I'm having fun doing it.

Back before I started writing seriously, I used to think that video games robbed me of the impetus to write. As if all the pent-up energy I had to devote to my craft was instead finding an outlet through the action and adventure games I played. I thought, in order to become a good writer, I would have to quit games cold turkey.

Now I know better. I've since found out that I can play games and write perfectly fine. Just that the writing takes priority. However, now that I've started my first novel I'm learning that the reverse of my original observation might actually be true -- that writing kills my urge to play video games!

I find that hilarious, if true. I don't think it is, though. Just that, now the high I'm getting off this novel is eclipsing the same high I would get off of playing a really engaging video game.

So, if you notice that my sidebar is not getting updated, or that I'm not talking about up and coming games as much as before . . . now you know. I'm a little busy having too much fun from a different source.

I don't know, but this seems to be the right priority for things in my life. Oh, don't you agree?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cuz I Figured, What The Hell?

You may recall a few days ago I mentioned here that I was mulling over the idea of adding a word counter bar on the blog to update people on my progress with the novel I started earlier this week.

Well, looks like the decision has been made! Check it out right now, my very own progress bar. It's currently located above the "About Me" bio on the top right of the page, titled appropriately enough "Current Novel In Progress." If you want your very own progress bar, head on over to Writertopia's website and pick between two counter styles. The one I picked is the simple version called a "picometer." The other one is far more elaborate and is represented by a cartoon that graphically changes depending on what mood attributes you assign to the HTML coding. That one was just way too overboard for my tastes, however.

Depending on which one you pick, you'll have to go into your Blogger design settings and pick Add A Widget. Then pick the one that allows you to add basic HTML/Java tags. Follow the instructions on the Writertopia site and insert the HTML code into your widget box, write a title for the box, and VOILĂ€!

As you can see by my counter, I've made some headway in 7 days, but I still have a long ways to go. I had to decide on an overall word count for the novel, though, in order to generate that counter. Which is something I don't yet know. Originally I was aiming for something in the range of 80,000 to 100,000 words -- which is about the size of a sleek, quick-paced and tidy sci-fi novel. However, after completing a rough outline and getting a better understanding of my chapters, I can see I'm going to need more room to capture all the elements I'm planning on including.

Which shouldn't come as a surprise since I'm writing an alternate history fantasy/horror hybrid and not a sleek, cool sci-fi action piece like my usual. Fantasy novels tend to be longer, anyway. My goal will be to toe the fine line between "epic" and bloated piece of crap, though. Geez, I hope I can pull this off!

I'm not ruling out the fact that I might need to increase the goal marker, however. Although I hope not. 120,000 words is A LOT! To be honest, I'm pretty sure I'll come in more at the 100 to 110k range, though. But since this is my first attempt at a novel, I concede the possibility that I could be way conservative in my estimate. Time will tell.

In the meantime, if you're ever sitting there wondering just how the hell this novel of mine is coming along, now you can look at the top of the page and see for yourself. For those keeping score, I had a very slow start at the beginning of the week, and then made up a ton of lost ground near the end of the week and over the weekend. In fact, I'm about to head back to 15th century Wallachia right now and continue this here novel of mine . . .

See you later!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hmm, Signs Of Global Warming?

Nah, I don't think so. Not in only two years' time. However, this *is* a little strange. Check out this photo I took outside my window back on November 7th, 2008:

If you would like to see additional pics from different angles for the same photo shoot, check out the original blog entry from that day by clicking here. As you can see, the leaves on the tress in the park across the street are fully changed over to their Fall colors and had already started dropping. As I recall, that year we had a pretty average Summer with predictable rain fall amounts and no abnormal temp hikes. At the time I did believe that we were experiencing Fall later and later in the year than I remembered as a child, but eventually just took it as the norm. However, fast forward almost exactly 2 years to the day, and here is a pic I just took outside the same window this afternoon:

I also took a larger panoramic of the entire park to give you an overview of how the rest of the trees are faring  (click on the image to see a larger version):

Now, are my eyes deceiving me, or is the foliage nowhere near the same level of changeover as it was during this same time back in 2008? That's a pretty dramatic difference if you ask me, and I honestly don't have any explanation for it. This past Summer was one of the most brutal we've had in a while, with ridiculously high temperature spikes, very little rainfall, and quite a few severe wind storms approaching tornado levels on at least two separate occasions. This was not a kind Summer for trees in the 5 Boroughs of New York City. And yet, judging from the pic above, the trees are retaining their foliage far later into the Fall season than in previous years.

Does anybody out there have an explanation for this? I'm stumped!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Into The Heart Of Darkness

Well, I've sailed up the river and gone native . . . on my practice novel, that is. Although I'm still puttering away on the first chapter (only 3,500 words in, as of this writing), I'm having a blast so far. The story is invading most of my waking moments, and practically all of my sleeping ones as well.

And do you know what surprises me?

How much FUN I'm actually having! No, I mean seriously, taking on this huge project was very daunting to me back when I started to do the research and craft the first of many drafts of my outline. But now that I've actually started the *real* writing, it's been the most amazing experience. Now, sure, ask me again how I feel a month from now and perhaps I'll have a different outlook. But for now, living in this world and seeing what happens next is more exciting than playing my PS3. More exciting than even the original game this book is based on -- and that's saying a LOT!

I think what's also surprising me is just how smoothly the prose is flowing off my fingertips, a truer sign than any that I'm having fun as I write. Despite the fact that I'm writing much more slowly each day than my usual pace with short stories. I expect this will pick up as I get drawn even deeper into this world of 15th century Romanian horror, folklore, and politics . . . seriously, what's not to like about all that?

I'm debating whether or not to put a word counter on this blog, to update you all on my progress as I write. I have ambivalent feelings on the issue, so give me a few days to decide the matter one way or the other.

For now just know that I haven't collapsed into a heap of anguish and tears. Not yet, anyway. It helps that I have a very well-developed story that I fleshed out and elaborated upon numerous times over the past year. Knowing what my main themes are, plus how a majority of my separate lines will tie together by the end, helps tremendously in giving the direction I need to steer this ship on its proper course. If I run aground at any point, you probably won't hear about it. I doubt I'll be blogging much while I'm in the thick of things.

But on happy days like this one, where the writing is fresh and smart as it has been so far, I'll gladly keep you all abreast of my thoughts and temperament.

I mean, what more do you people want from me, eh? :)

Have a good weekend everybody!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The World Series That Wasn't

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants for winning their first World Series in around 56 years or so! It sucked that my Yankees weren't in it this year, but hey -- you can't win them all. To be honest, I'm still basking in the glow from last year's win, so I think it's rather gracious of us that we allowed someone else to win this year. Don't you? :)

Seriously, though, it was a special treat watching the high and mighty Texas Rangers get their asses handed to them -- and in their own home, too! Even more priceless was seeing that sorry sad monkey face on George W. Bush as the pride of Texas went down in flames right before his eyes. Ah, Cliff Lee . . . I like you as a person, but your team's fans deserved to see you bomb not just once but twice in the series. Kudos! I've always found you to be a humble and generally deserving of all your praise. But Rangers fans were getting way too full of themselves, pinning all their hopes on just one man like that. I hope they learned a lesson, and I hope you stick it out with the team for at least another year. As a Yankees fan, I know I'm supposed to root for you to come over to our team. But, honestly, you have a good fit where you are now. Let's see if you can make it happen next year, 'kay?

Of course, I'm hoping to have a rematch between the Rangers and Yanks next year. I get the feeling things won't pan out quite the same way then as they did this year. But we'll see.

But, yes . . . Giants FTW!!! As a former big time New York team, you do us proud!

Monday, November 1, 2010

One Or Two Quick Notes

Won't have much time to blog over the next several weeks, so I thought I'd catch you up on a couple of items:

First,  if you didn't catch my blog update yesterday, AMC premiered their new zombie series "The Walking Dead" last night -- and oh what a doozy of a pilot episode it was.

It was AWESOME! It was 90 minutes long, and I didn't get to watch it until close to midnight . . . but I was riveted the entire time! I had only intended to watch 30 mins or so, but ended up just staying put on the couch straight through from the opening to the ending credits. Not many shows can keep me interested right off the bat and for that long of a stretch.

Honestly, if you like dystopians and zombies and survival movies all rolled into one weekly serial, you're doing yourself a huge disservice by missing this show. The make-up and creature effects were just simply out of this world -- the best zombies I've ever seen, even better than a Romero movie! And Frank Darabont, the developer and producer of the series, also directed this pilot. This is the guy who directed The Shawshank Redemption people, perhaps the greatest movie of all time.

Do yourself a favor and WATCH THIS SHOW! If you need to, click on the link above for the trailer.

And secondly . . .

Yes, fear not. I did indeed start the novel last night, despite all the blog updates and tv show watching. Since we don't have any kids to fuss over, Halloween is a non-event in the Batista household. So just like I said it would, work has officially begun on my horror-fantasy manuscript on this All Hallows' Even. I didn't get very far into the opening chapter (which in fact will probably end up being chapter 7 or 8 when the actual book is done and ordered). I was met with some major stumbling blocks that needed overcoming, which hampered my usual writing speed of 800 words per hour. Mostly big picture decisions like narrative tone and atmosphere, which I generally get a good read on right out the gate on short stories, but which seemed like a much more daunting task at the start of an actual big novel like this one.

Then there was also the huge weight of the undertaking, my first ever attempt at a novel. I spent most of an hour simply worrying about the proper way to start off the chapter. Finally, in the end, it all came together well enough as I conquered my anxieties and the words started to flow.

Unfortunately, it was already late and the rest of the chapter was going to require my full energy and alertness for some pretty intense action scenes coming up. I thought it best to call it a night at this point, and to continue the next day after work . . . which is what I'll be doing tonight. Right now I'm exactly 502 words in after one day's attempt.

So, one day down -- 59 more to go!

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...